Historical Significance or Value
The Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) has historical significance. Its function as a control point gatehouse signifies the importance and status of the estate’s owner. As well as operating as the gate keeper, the occupants of the Lodge appear to have been the estate’s gardener or head gardener and his family, demonstrating these pivotal roles within the large Ohoka Estate. The building is a replica replacement of an earlier lodge building destroyed by fire, then subsequently relocated on three occasions yet still within what had been in the large property known as Ohoka Estate until 1908-1909. This tells a story common to New Zealand’s history of loss by fire as well as the ease and relative frequency of relocation of small timber buildings.
Aesthetic Significance or Value
The Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) has aesthetic value. Its visual appearance elicits an emotional response. The combination of the small scale decorative timber building within a park setting is evocative of the nineteenth settlement in rural Ōhoka, when many ancillary buildings were constructed for the functioning of the large rural estate. The aesthetic qualities are recognised by the Ōhoka Domain Advisory Group who has enhanced the building’s appearance following its relocation from 127 Jacksons Road, where it was in need of repair and not easily viewed by the public, to the public space of Ōhoka Domain.
Architectural Significance or Value
The Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) has architectural value. It is essentially a small scale Gothic style dwelling, a post 1891 replica replacement of one destroyed by fire. In scale, form and timberwork, it is identifiably the same building as photographed around the turn of the twentieth century at its original location at the gateway entrance to J. S. White’s Ohoka Estate on Whites Road. The building’s symmetry, repetition of fenestration and detailing, including decorative bargeboards, infer the work of a crafted designer.
Social Significance or Value
The Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) has social value. The Ōhoka community has demonstrated that it values the place through celebrating the donation by the previous owners, relocation by truck to the Ōhoka Domain and now community volunteerism to achieve its repair and restoration. The community would likely feel a collective sense of loss if the building was to be lost.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
The initial rebuild of the Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge as a replica on its original site tells the all too common story, especially in the nineteenth century, of loss of timber buildings through fire. That the building has had four different physical locations is indicative of New Zealand’s history of relocating buildings, especially small scale timber ones.
The function of the building as the residence for the gate keeper and property control point tells an aspect of New Zealand’s colonial history regarding the establishment of large estates. It also provides an insight into some of the practicalities involved with gig and coach type transport at a time when they were a common way travelling.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place
Ohoka Estate plays a key role in Ōhoka’s history and the area which is now the public domain was originally part of that large estate. Now that the Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) building has been donated to the community and relocated to the Ōhoka Domain, its presence in the local consciousness has been elevated and there is a sense of pride and ownership in this latest move. A small but very active group of volunteers, with interest and assistance from local school children, demonstrates the community associated with and public esteem for the place.
(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places
As a control point for accessing large or important properties, gatehouses were not uncommon, especially in nineteenth century New Zealand. Of those that still survive, it appears that they now have a degree of rarity.
Summary of Significance or Values
Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) has aesthetic, architectural, historical and social significance or value and is starting to be celebrated locally as an example of saved and restored heritage now in the public domain. It is considered that Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) retains sufficient significance to merit entry on the List at its new location as a Category 2 historic place, particularly given its public accessibility at Ōhoka Domain.
Māori historic relationship with the area
The vast network of wetlands and plains of Kā Pākihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha (Canterbury Plains) is inherently important to the history of its early occupation. The area was rich in food from the forest and waterways. Major awa such as the Rakahura (Ashley) and the Waimakariri were supplied from the mountain fed aquifers of Ka Tiritiri o te Moana (Southern Alps) while other spring fed waterways meandered throughout the landscape. The rivers teemed with tuna, kōkopu, kanakana and īnaka while the forest supplied kererū, tūī and other fauna as well as building materials. Ōhoka is situated on the edge of the historic 18,000 acre swamp that lay between the Waimakariri and Rakahuri rivers providing a good supply of wading birds and fibres for weaving, food and medicine. Ara tawhito (travelling routes) crossed over the landscape providing annual and seasonal pathways up and down and across the Plains. The resources supported the nearby Kaiapoi pā, a vibrant and successful pā which was a thriving trading centre for a range of goods, including pounamu.
From the mid nineteenth century, Pākehā missionaries and immigrants settled in the Canterbury Plains, many arriving as part of the Canterbury Association settlement programme. In the Waimakariri district, small colonial towns and settlements developed in the 1850s and 1860s, including at Ōhoka. By 1866 there were some 25 farms established in the Ōhoka area. One such farm, established by J. S. White, soon became particularly well-known.
J. S. White’s Ohoka Estate
In circa 1856 Josiah (Joseph) Senior White arrived in Canterbury from Australia, where it was rumoured that he had been involved in some controversy or scandal there. In New Zealand, White prospered. He established a number of businesses in Kaiapoi and Saltwater Creek, including a chain of stores known as 'Beehive Emporiums' located throughout North Canterbury.
In 1866 White established a large farm at Ōhoka and was given Crown Grant in 1867. Known as Ohoka Estate, the station was bounded by what is now Whites Road, Mill Road, Jacksons Road and Tram Road.
As an experiment, J. S. White imported over 100,000 oak, elm, ash and beech seedlings and planted huge wind breaks, shelter belts and ornamental plantations. He also arranged the erection of a brickmaking kiln, which produced the bricks for his Ohoka Homestead (List No. 274). Built in the early 1870s, the two storeyed, brick Ohoka Homestead is Gothic in style with steeply pitched slate roofs, fretted bargeboards, finials and arched windows. Nearby, a timber stables and dovecot building was built, possibly around the same time as the homestead (List No. 3347). Further away from the homestead and stables, at the original access point to the estate on Whites Road, a timber lodge was built for the gate keeper.
J. S. White’s first wife, Eva Elizabeth, died at the homestead, aged 29, on 29 March 1883. He remarried in the 1880s and the new Mrs J. S. White continued a key role on the large estate. With her husband, she was involved in the employment of the estate’s many staff, including gardeners, ploughmen, fencers, coachmen, parlourmaids and housemaids. On a number of occasions, J. S. White looked to selling the property but this did not eventuate during his lifetime.
Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge
The Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge was the main entrance to White’s well landscaped park-like estate and a curved road on the property led from the lodge to Ohoka Homestead, some 600 metres to the east. Surrounded by trees yet visible from the road, the Lodge was set back inside a curved corrugated iron fence, approximate one metre high, which was topped by a broad timber capping. At the centre was an iron gate. The Lodge was set inside to the south of the curved fence. The original was probably built in the late 1870s or 1880s.
The role of the occupants of the Lodge was to manage traffic and visitors coming to the estate. Traffic was generally by horseback, horse and gig or horse and coach. There was a separate entrance, some 50 yards (45 metres) away, for working horses and drays, which gave access to the stock yards and farm buildings. The occupants of the Lodge had the job of opening and closing the gate for the head of the estate and visitors. This saved time for horses and gig type traffic without loss of control – all they had to do was call out ‘coo-ee’ and usually the gate would be opened.
Fire and Rebuild of the Gate Keeper’s Lodge
In 1891 a fire destroyed the Lodge and nearly all its contents. The cause of the fire related to an attempt to rid of a colony of bees established within the walls of the house using sulphur fumes.
The Lodge was soon rebuilt on the same site, reputedly as an exact replica of the original. The exact date of the rebuild is not known, but conceivably this happened within a year or so of the fire.
The occupants of the Lodge (both original and as rebuilt) seem to have been the estate’s gardener or head gardener and his family. Mr A. Catchpole was the occupant at the time of the 1891 fire. Head gardener, Thomas Murray, his wife and eventually six children lived at the Lodge in the late nineteenth century, presumably after the new lodge was rebuilt, but it may have been the earlier one.
J. S. White died in 1905 and his second wife arranged for the property to be subdivided and sold – this occurred in stages between 1907 and early 1909. An advertisement in the Lyttelton Times on 12 November 1908 stated that 12 blocks of Mrs J. S. White’s Ohoka Estate were already sold and only two lots were remaining for disposal. Of the two remaining lots for sale, Lot 1 was the finest one containing the farmstead – its buildings comprised the two storeyed brick homestead, also ‘a capital comparatively new lodge, brick farmhouse, granary, stables and woolshed’. This description of the lodge as being comparatively new confirms it was much newer than the other (1870s) buildings on the subdivided property.
Mr W. A. Kelcher purchased Lot 1 with the buildings on or before January 1909. Several changes of ownership followed. In people’s memory, it was still the old J. S. White’s estate, even though Mrs White had sold and had been living in England for many years before she died in 1923.
Three Times Relocation of the Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge
In around 1920 to 1930, the former Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge was relocated to 127 Jacksons Road, on a separate private land parcel of what would originally have been on the eastern side of the larger Ohoka Estate. There is a story that it was gifted to the retiring gardener. It is thought that the first wallpaper might have been introduced at this time to cover any cracks or damage after moving. In its new location it functioned as a private residence throughout changes of ownership. It was in that location that the building’s heritage values were formally recognised in 1984 through entry on the Historic Places Trust Register (now the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero) as ‘Former Ohoka Lodge’ (List No. 3817).
In 1995 the building was again shifted within the same land parcel at 127 Jacksons Road to make way for a new home to be built. In this third location, some 130 metres to the north-east of its second location, it was painted and reroofed, given new piles, borer was treated, and a 1970s kitchen and chimney were removed. The building was unoccupied after the 1995 shift. It suffered some lath and plaster damage in the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes. In 2017 the owners decided to donate the damaged building to the community and so, in April 2018, with much excitement by the locals, it was shifted to the Ōhoka Domain.
At the Ōhoka Domain, the building is being repaired and restored by a group of volunteers, the Ōhoka Domain Advisory Group. Although twice shifted before it was again relocated to the domain, the building remains within what would have originally been the large Ohoka Estate.
Gatehouses were a sign of wealth and status that the property owners could afford to employ someone to open and close gates for themselves and their visitors. There are only a few gatehouses entered on the New Zealand Heritage List. They include Mona Vale Gatehouse, Christchurch (List No. 1799) and Vogel House, Cottage and Grounds, Lower Hutt (List No. 7757) Glenmark Lodge (List No. 1777) was the rural lodge for the Glenmark Station at Waipara. It was part of a complex designed by the architect Samuel Farr, although almost certainly influenced by North American ‘Carpenter Gothic’ pattern books. Ohoka Lodge is a more modest building, gothic in design like the Glenmark Lodge, but probably not the work of an architect. Rather, the style of its bargeboards suggest it is the work of a building familiar with the pattern books. There is also a gatehouse at the entrance to the grounds of the early twentieth century Government House in Wellington (List No. 218), this having a serious security function rather than being about a statement of the importance of an estate and boundary marker. The gatehouse which was part of the Elms Farm Complex (Former) in Kaikōura (List No. 7693) was demolished following the Kaikōura earthquake of 2017.
The New Zealand Heritage List includes a number of historic places that have been relocated. Relocation usually removes a building or structure from its historical context and tends to reduce its significance, but Heritage New Zealand considers relocated Listed buildings or structures on a case by case basis to determine what heritage values remain and if the place will remain entered on the New Zealand Heritage List. Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) is one of many examples of relocated buildings. Some Canterbury ones include Akaroa Lighthouse (List No. 3343), Shand’s (List No 307), Oxford Lock-up (Former) (List No. 7196), St Luke’s Chapel (List No. 5328), St Saviour’s Church (List No. 1929) and Band Rotunda in Kaiapoi (List No. 3748). The latter three examples have, like the Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) been shifted several times. This is part of their history.
In its new location, the Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge (Former) sits on open land towards the south-western end of Ōhoka Domain, opposite 401 Whites Road, Ōhoka. The building is surrounded on all sides by a white picket fence and beyond, especially to its north and west, are some mature trees. The picket fence is modern, as are the metal gates within the north and west sides of the fence. To the north and west of the building and fence is an open expanse of grassed land. To the south is further open land including an area that is part of a native planting programme.
The building is Gothic is style, more or less cruciform in plan, and with a gabled roof running east to west, intercepted by a gabled roof running north to south. A lower lean-to extension sits at the south-east corner. The roof is corrugated steel, the timbers are weatherboard.
On each elevation the gable ends contain ogee-style curved timber bargeboards that bear some resemblance to the timber bargeboards at a different property in Ōhoka – the Inglewood Homestead dating from the 1860s (List No. 274). At the apex of the Ohoka Gate Keeper’s Lodge gables are finials, surmounted by decorative cast iron orb type shapes. Within each of the four main gables sits a timber diamond shape with a quatrefoil centre.
The west elevation fronts Whites Road and contains the main entrance door within a gabled porch that also has matching bargeboards and finial.
Windows throughout are casement and those on the north, east and south elevations are capped with stepped timber hood moulds. The plain glazing is a replacement of the original leadlight windows.
The lean-to extension at the south-east corner has a single sloping bargeboard, decorated in the form of repetitive pointed arches and circular and trefoil indentations.
The interior has five rooms and a lobby. At the time of writing this report (2019) the rooms were vacant and in need of repair but previously they served as lobby, parlour, kitchen and three bedrooms. The central fireplace and chimney between the parlour and kitchen has long been removed – the gap remains in the wall and floorboards where it previously stood – and the intention is to reinstate a ‘dummy’ chimney with inoperative coal range in its place.
The interior fabric includes lath and plaster, as well as remnants of early limewash or distemper behind layers of peeling wallpaper. The interior doors are conventional four-panel type with rim locks. Timber skirtings, varying in height between 180-192 millimetre, have a moulded profile at the top and are used throughout the interior.
Although, at the time of writing this report (2019), the interior fabric is in a damaged state, a gradual programme of repair and restoration will be undertaken now that the exterior works have been largely completed.
Construction of replacement Gate Keeper’s Lodge on Whites Road after first Lodge destroyed by fire in 1891
Relocation to 127 Jacksons Road
Alterations including new chimney
Second relocation within same property at 127 Jacksons Road
2018 - 2018
Relocation to Ōhoka Domain
2018 - 2019
Repair and restoration
Timber, corrugated steel, glass
15th October 2019
Report Written By
Pauline Wood, Kaiapoi: A Search for Identity, Rangiora, 1993
Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.
Hawkins, D N, Beyond the Waimakariri: A Regional History, Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, Christchurch, 1957
Mowl, Timothy and Brian Earnshaw
Trumpet at a Distant Gate: The Lodge as Prelude to the Country House, 1985
A fully referenced New Zealand Heritage List report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand.
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.
Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.